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Why You’re Resting All Wrong And How To Fix It

Why You’re Resting All Wrong And How To Fix It

Life can be all activity. We have worries, tasks, questions and goals to work on. Those breaks in our day are few. It could be the end of the day, or a 15 minute opening in your schedule. Whatever is available, that is when you need to rest your tired limbs and mind.

So you sit in front of a TV and watch a CSI marathon. Or you take a TMZ.com break and scan through the latest gossip. That is what you and I call rest…and that is why you are resting all wrong.

We think we will rest by just taking away what made us tired. It makes logical sense, right? If you have a thorn in your thumb that is causing you pain, and you can remove that pain by simply removing that thorn. But the body and mind don’t always work that way.

Have you ever felt a bit numb or maybe even more tired after doing something mindless, like watching TV or staring at your office’s ceiling? Yeah, me, too. This means you weren’t truly resting.

There are three approaches to to get the rest you need, and they are all based on how your body and mind work on a biological level. These are: Acceptance, Change and Surrender.

Acceptance

Tiredness and stress build throughout time. This is called the allostatic load. Your mind owns this load, like an ever-growing to-do list. Every time a new item you need to consider comes up, it gets added to this to-do list.

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As you are already guessing, this affects your attempts to let go of all that stuff. Your mind will continue to run laps around that list unless you do something about it.

One way of shifting your mind’s “attention” is to Accept the reality you are in. When you are caught up in the milieu of things you don’t recognize that milieu. You just keep running; we keep chugging away.

This is where mindfulness can help. Being mindful means being aware of what is happening right now. It also means you are able to detach yourself from the hubub running around you. It’s as if you ceased to become You, the busy bee, and instead were watching You, The Busy Bee, the movie. You achieve an awareness beyond your to-do list–you transcend it.

This probably all sounds meta, but there’s a way you can easily achieve this, and that is through meditation. Meditation helps put you in that state of mindful awareness (among other great benefits). You rise above the taxing reality around you. You go to a space where you can breathe, in every sense of the word. Being aware of what is happening now helps release the tension and tiredness that comes with it.

Studies show that 15 minutes of meditation provide you the same amount of rest as one hour of sleep. That is how powerful of a restful reboot you can get from Accepting your reality.

Change

But the world keeps spinning. If you are not in a mindful space, walking away from something does not mean you have completely let it go. That’s not how you work.

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Our minds are great at focusing on something (finding an earring, chasing a goal). They’re not good at focusing on nothing (that is why negative goals like, “I will lose weight,” are hard to stick to). This is called absence blindness. Our minds have trouble holding onto what’s out of focus.

When you stop doing the work that has wiped you out and do nothing instead, your mind doesn’t follow along. It can’t focus on absence, so it keeps working on what was there before–the stuff you are trying to get rid of.

This is where Change helps. Just like working a muscle, you give that muscle rest by switching your efforts to another muscle. Instead of taking away, you re-direct the course of the snowball.

Winston Churchill, a man who led a nation through WWII and fought off the Nazis’ attempt to destroy his country (i.e. he was probably quite busy), said this about how we approached resting:

Change is the master key. A man can wear out a particular part of his mind by continually using it and tiring it […] The tired mind can be rested and strengthened, not merely by rest, but by using other parts. It is not merely enough to switch off the lights which play upon the main stage […] a new field of interest must be illuminated. […] It is only when new cells are called into activity, when new stars become the lords of the ascendant, that relief, repose, refreshment are afforded. – Winston Churchill, Painting as a Pastime

If you spent hours working on your computer, go for a jog.

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If you are tired of doing house chores, do some doodling outdoors.

If you spent the whole day doing mindless, monotonous work (which can most definitely wipe you out), do something mentally stimulating, like writing, or taking free online classes.

If you spent the whole day trying to outsmart Hitler, do some painting.

Work out a different part of yourself. It might seem counter-intuitive–replace work with more work?!–but it does the trick. You’ll not only stay active in a fulfilling way, but you’ll give that other part of you some much needed rest.

Surrender

Sometimes it’s all too much. You don’t want to center yourself. You don’t want to scribble or learn about anything. You just want to pass the heck out. Which means you should.

Fatigue is real. It’s not just being tired, it is being chronically tired. Your body is going into preservation mode (it can even cause bouts of depression).

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The only way to approach this is to surrender to your needs. Surrender is often thought of as a bad thing. It doesn’t mean you gave up. It means you’re bowing out for your greater good.

Sometimes surrender means giving up trying to understand and becoming comfortable with not knowing – Eckhart Tolle

To surrender means to shut down, i.e. sleep. It can also mean to indulge: give yourself a bubble bath, drink some hot cocoa and listen to music, or drink a beer and take a nap. Take care of yourself as if you were sick, because you kind of are. Just like when you have a cold or are injured, do what makes you feel good and helps you recover. Whatever you need to get yourself out of the red, you must do it now.

I encourage you to try these approaches today. Tweet at me to let me know how they’ve helped you get the rest you need.

In mindfulness, thrive.

Featured photo credit: Val Gardena Groden Marketing via flickr.com

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Last Updated on May 15, 2019

How to Tap Into the Power of Positivity

How to Tap Into the Power of Positivity

As it appears, the human mind is not capable of not thinking, at least on the subconscious level. Our mind is always occupied by thoughts, whether we want to or not, and they influence our every action.

“Happiness cannot come from without, it comes from within.” – Helen Keller

When we are still children, our thoughts seem to be purely positive. Have you ever been around a 4-year old who doesn’t like a painting he or she drew? I haven’t. Instead, I see glee, exciting and pride in children’s eyes. But as the years go by, we clutter our mind with doubts, fears and self-deprecating thoughts.

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Just imagine then how much we limit ourselves in every aspect of our lives if we give negative thoughts too much power! We’ll never go after that job we’ve always wanted because our nay-saying thoughts make us doubt our abilities. We’ll never ask that person we like out on a date because we always think we’re not good enough.

We’ll never risk quitting our job in order to pursue the life and the work of our dreams because we can’t get over our mental barrier that insists we’re too weak, too unimportant and too dumb. We’ll never lose those pounds that risk our health because we believe we’re not capable of pushing our limits. We’ll never be able to fully see our inner potential because we simply don’t dare to question the voices in our head.

But enough is enough! It’s time to stop these limiting beliefs and come to a place of sanity, love and excitement about life, work and ourselves.

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So…how exactly are we to achieve that?

It’s not as hard as it may seem; you just have to practice, practice, practice. Here are a few ideas on how you can get started.

1. Learn to substitute every negative thought with a positive one.

Every time a negative thought crawls into your mind, replace it with a positive thought. It’s just like someone writes a phrase you don’t like on a blackboard and then you get up, erase it and write something much more to your liking.

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2. See the positive side of every situation, even when you are surrounded by pure negativity.

This one is a bit harder to put into practice, which does not mean it’s impossible.

You can find positivity in everything by mentally holding on to something positive, whether this be family, friends, your faith, nature, someone’s sparkling eyes or whatever other glimmer of beauty. If you seek it, you will find it.

3. At least once a day, take a moment and think of 5 things you are grateful for.

This will lighten your mood and give you some perspective of what is really important in life and how many blessings surround you already.

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4. Change the mental images you allow to enter your mind.

How you see yourself and your surroundings make a huge difference to your thinking. It is like watching a DVD that saddens and frustrates you, completely pulling you down. Eject that old DVD, throw it away and insert a new, better, more hopeful one instead.

So, instead of dwelling on dark, negative thoughts, consciously build and focus on positive, light and colorful images, thoughts and situations in your mind a few times a day.

If you are persistent and keep on working on yourself, your mind will automatically reject its negative thoughts and welcome the positive ones.

And remember: You are (or will become) what you think you are. This is reason enough to be proactive about whatever is going on in your head.

Featured photo credit: Kyaw Tun via unsplash.com

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